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Tariq Hashmi

PAKISTAN
Topic initiated on Saturday, February 26, 2005  -  5:44 AM Reply with quote
A New Method of Interpreting the Quran


assalaam o alaikum!
This discussion was initiated by Amr on the discussion forum relating to the ocurse Interpreting the Quran. Since the discussion stands beyond the scope of the subject treated there I thought it fit to bring it in the gereral discussion forum. All input is welcome.

Tariq Mahmood Hashmi
________________________________________
A new method of interpretation?


Il Salam Alikom

I've been studying Quranic interpretation long before i ever took any formal courses on it (as i am doing now), and i've come across some things on interpretation which are not in our notes. I'd like to take one of these things out here so that you can get a full idea of the depth of what i speak of.

I generally don't like tafsir bil riwayah, as it is very restrictive in our age today and can keep us back. Tafsir bil ra'y gives us much more flexibility in molding Islam into our day and place, and this is extremely important as the Hadith and Sunnah were written for an agrarian society where people had not ever even heard of a state as we know one today (the first modern state ever created was around the 1600s in Europe), while the Quran was written for all times and places. I won't go on a lot about this, so i'll get into the substance of this thread:

Quran, Surah 3 Verse 7.


"He it is who has revealed the book to thee; some of its verses are decisive - they are the basis of the book - and others are allegorical..."

Here it says that they Quran, ON PURPOSE, has parts which are decisive (mo7kamat) and others which are allegorical (motashabihat). Now, WHY? The answer is in the rest of the verse...lets keep on reading.

"...And none knows it's interpretation but Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge. They say: We beleive in it, it is all from our Lord."

Hence: God never says we should look at the Hadith or anything about the prophet to figure out how to interpret His words which are left unclear. He makes it very vague to the point that he allows anybody who is "firmly rooted in knowledge" to be able to interpret His allegorical words. NOT the prophet alone (or the companions, as most people do).
Also, between those two quotes there is the following:

'Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation.'

This is basically a warning from Allah towards those who take up the task of interpreting the Quran as to not abuse the allegorical areas for their own personal wants. Again, it proves that Allah allows just anybody to interpret the words of the Quran, DIRECTLY, without having to specifically follow the Hadith.

As to avoid confusion, i will write the whole verse as as a whole in order so that nobody is confused:

"He it is who has revealed the book to thee; some of its verses are decisive - they are the basis of the book - and others are allegorical. Then those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. And none knows it's interpretation but Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge They say: We beleive in it, it is all from our Lord."

Though i cannot in any way forget about the verses within the Quran which tells the prophet to clarify the Quran for us and that we should follow him on that. Let us look at the chronological order in which each of these was revealed:

Surah 16, Verse 44

We have sent down to you [O Prophet] the message that you may explain clearly to people what has been sent to them.

Surah 16, Verse 64

‘We sent down
the Book to you for the sole purpose that you should make clear to them those things in which they differ, and that it should be a guide and a mercy to those who believe’

Surah 16 is called "Il Naml" and it was the 70th Surah to be revealed. On the other hand, the first verse which i quoted was from "Al Imran" which was the 89th Surah to be revealed. Does this mean that Surah Al Imran can take presedence over Il Naml only because it was revealed in a later date? No, of course not. Though it does show a trend where at the begining, God gave permission to interpret his words only to the prophet, and then later on this privilage was handed over to those with firm knowledge in Islam.

From this, i can safely conclude that the Hadith should be used as a guide rather than a standard, while the Quran is the standard. This is an extremely complex thing to do, and i've gone through some of it to see the results of using this as a basis for interpretation, and the results i've seen were in my opinion good, as they give us more flexibility without losing the soul of the Quran or even the Hadith. I do not say the hadith should be pushed aside or disregarded, but i mean that it shouldn't be used as an absolute interpretation for laws in the year 2005.

I have put much hard thought into this and i can see it as a fairly strong argument, one which if true, can open a myriad of doors to new interpretations and may be a great motivator for modernizing Islam and bringing it into the 21st century (i beleive that Islam has fallen behind for quite a while). It may also be a source for division and frustration, though i pray to God that this will not be the case.

Please tell me your thoughts on my argument here as it is very important for me to know.

askhalifa 3068)

Quote: From this, i can safely conclude that the Hadith should be used as a guide rather than a standard, while the Quran is the standard. This is an extremely complex thing to do, and i've gone through some of it to see the results of using this as a basis for interpretation, and the results i've seen were in my opinion good, as they give us more flexibility without losing the soul of the Quran or even the Hadith. I do not say the hadith should be pushed aside or disregarded, but i mean that it shouldn't be used as an absolute interpretation for laws in the year 2005.
brother that is really nice, But in my knowledge only well known tafseer based on riwayah is that of Ibn-katheer may be few more. But nowday almost all tafseer is qualifying your recommendation. I have read parts of tafheemul Quran, Tadabbur-e-Quran, maariful Quran etc. And I can say that all of them tried to use their brain as much as possible, Yes hadith is something which check them if they try to diverge from the path
AmrBassiouny 3333):


quote:
brother that is really nice, But in my knowledge only well known tafseer based on riwayah is that of Ibn-katheer may be few more. But nowday almost all tafseer is qualifying your recommendation. I have read parts of tafheemul Quran, Tadabbur-e-Quran, maariful Quran etc. And I can say that all of them tried to use their brain as much as possible, Yes hadith is something which check them if they try to diverge from the path

Actually, no, this isn't the case. If you use this as a basis for interpretation, then you are basically saying the following: The Quran is written for all times and places, while the Hadith is written for one time and place. Hence, when intepreting the Quran for TODAY, the interpretation in many cases will be different from what the Hadith says it should be.

Today Ijtihad is used only in the case where there was nothing to clarify the Quran in the Hadith or companions' interpretations. This argument above gives us the right to Ijtihad even if the case is talked in detail within the Hadith or with the companions.

For example, using this method, i can safely conclude that the Hijab is not a fard, but only mostahab (recommended). I went through this in detail, and, if what i said in the first post is correct, then trust me, it will change A LOT. The Hadith will merely be something to refer to, rather than something to follow; as it would be considered outdated in many circumstances.

I'd be glad to see any refutations to what i said above, because, if not, then there is a lot of work to be done.



askhalifa 3068)

By saying interpretation of Quran, if you mean deriving fiqh than your argument is right. Anyway this is not a new idea, a great person know as ghulam ahmed parvez did his best to do so. But, unfortunately these traditional ulema chased him very badly to fail his mission. Still there are many people who are trying their best to do so.
AmrBassiouny 3333)
quote:
By saying interpretation of Quran, if you mean deriving fiqh than your argument is right. Anyway this is not a new idea, a great person know as ghulam ahmed parvez did his best to do so. But, unfortunately these traditional ulema chased him very badly to fail his mission. Still there are many people who are trying their best to do so.


Thanks a lot! I was hoping to find anybody else who had come to the same conclusion i had come to. I read a little now on Ghulam and i agree with most of what he says. In fact, he is saying what i've been saying for a long time.

I'll be sure to look further into his words, as well as further develop my own. Our ideas are not 100% identicle though, as i have come up with my thoughts fully independantly, and so there are some differences when it comes to the details.

Just as a note, there is a very big difference between my ideology and Ghulam's ideology. Ghulam is trying to fully discredit and remove the current existing Hadith. I am not trying to do this, and i will not try as it is not a feasable idea. What i am trying to do, and what i have just proven in the first post of this thread, is that we can in fact BYPASS the Hadith, and so we are not restricted by it.

askhalifa 3068)


Bro..
If you want to learn and explain Quran by this way, you can keep it upto you. Now if you try to spread your thought these traditional clerics of madrasas will come behind you, and make sure that your mission fails miserably as what has happened with ghulam.
Another way to get rid of hadith is not to deny hadith, tries to show that these ahadith are against Quran, or explain in such a way that it becomes ineffective. This method is already employed by some of the modern scholars. You don't have worry about ummah there are people who are taking care of such ideas. Specifically during such period of humuliation people can easily be hunted with such ideas

AmrBassiouny 3333):

quote: Bro..
If you want to learn and explain Quran by this way, you can keep it upto you. Now if you try to spread your thought these traditional clerics of madrasas will come behind you, and make sure that your mission fails miserably as what has happened with ghulam.
Another way to get rid of hadith is not to deny hadith, tries to show that these ahadith are against Quran, or explain in such a way that it becomes ineffective. This method is already employed by some of the modern scholars. You don't have worry about ummah there are people who are taking care of such ideas. Specifically during such period of humuliation people can easily be hunted with such ideas


Yea, i know that. I'm very weary about taking my message to the general public. I wouldn't even think about trying to challenge the clerics...not because i'm not confident or because my point is invalid...only because i know they will do everything in their power to discredit me, and i can't win.

Though i honestly see the Ummah falling quickly. If the truth doesn't come out, and if people remain as brainwashed as they are today (through their dependancy on the scholars and clerics)...then we'll never move forward. I can't see any scholars in the Arab world moving in the direction you say they are moving. Maybe in Pakistan or the USA they would be more open, but the middle-east is where the heart of Islam is, and that is where it would be most important to fix it. Nobody has had a loud enough voice for people to hear him on this issue.

Insha2allah in the future, i have many plans. I won't follow a career in religious studies or in any kind of acedemics, though hopefully i will come across the area in my line of work.
perv1 3246)

Good Luck.
Tariq Hashmi 30)
assalaam o alaikum!
I am not sure what faults you have discovered with the traditional approach. I would request you to consider the traditional approach in interpreting the Qur'an and also the contemporary view which emphasizes some points which are not that manifest or are absolutely absent in the previous works. It would do your mission a lot to good to be acquainted with them. In all the disciplines the available knowledge helps the learner go further.
I also could not understand what would be these principles. Can i interpret Shakespeare without learning the language in which it was written? Can i give new meanings to what the words were actually used to mean?
I would again request you to first consider the previous approaches. Once we have understood them we will be able to see the shortcoming in them and develop a new one.
I would also like to make it clear that i do not oppose your view in the least. I just want to point out the fact that we are here to understand the previous works and then we might be able to do better.
Wating for your response.  
AmrBassiouny (3333):

  Thanks for the reply (i'm hoping to get as much critisism as possible from anybody to figure out the truth).

I admit to have not studied the contemporary methods of interpretation in much detail. But i have finished all the sections on tafsir bil ra'y and riwayah. I breifly looked through the contemporary methods...though i didn't find anything which specifically deals with what i am talking about. Furthermore, i don't want to disprove any other method of interpretation, but only to prove this method.

I never mentioned disregarding the "asbab il nizool" (reasons for revalation), but i say that the Prophet's interpretation of the Quran should not be used as a universal interpretation for all times and places. I beleive that we should look at the reasons and circumstances behind a revalation, it is essential, though that does not mean we should interpret specific allegorical words, given to us by god, the exact same way the prophet did.

In this i am not saying that the prophet's interpretation is bad or invalid, but only that the prophet interpreted the Quran for the year 600AD, for Saudi Arabia. The Quran is differentiated from all the other holy books because it was written for all times and places...while the prophet's interpretation of the Quran was written for only one time and one place.

From the verse i quoted in my first post (Ch3, verse 7), i understood that God gives us this right. yes, in the older verses He says that we should refer to the prophet on interpreting unclear areas...though he later on gives any human being (with a lot of knowledge) the right to do what the prophet was first asked to do. To interpret allegorical verses.

Also, for verse 7 chapter 3 which i first quoted (the basis to all what i say)...i am currently debating...does the word "motashabihat" refer to general verses which may have many similar meanings which are not specified in the Quran...OR...does it refer to parts of the Quran which are at first mentioned breifly and then later in detail (such as in 39:23)? I doubt there is any 100% definite answer on that, but i'd like to know your personal opinion as this could invalidate what i've been saying in terms of that verse.

Hamdiyah 1913)

  As Salâmu `alaikum wa Rahmatullâh wa Barakatullâh,

It is truly amazing how one manages to so complicate the religion that Allâh Ta’ala has completed and made so very easy for us. This is what I do not understand. Is it one’s pride and/or an attempt to prove the scholars/teachers of Islam wrong; or is Islam really that complicated for one? The nitpicking, not debating, is much too obvious. Yesterday, today, tomorrow -- do you believe that the message of Islam brought to the world by the Prophet Muhammad, Salallahu alaihi wa salâm, is much too backward for modern times (as many non-Muslim westerners would have the world believe)? Do you believe that Islam, and the interpretation thereof, needs to be changed to comply with the ways and "freedoms" of the modern, western/christian world?
This reminds me of that cow that the then followers of the Prophet Musa almost did not sacrifice – nitpicking, nitpicking, nitpicking.
You have the option of accepting or rejecting.

wa salâmu,
AmrBassiouny(3333):


quote:
As Salâmu `alaikum wa Rahmatullâh wa Barakatullâh,

It is truly amazing how one manages to so complicate the religion that Allâh Ta’ala has completed and made so very easy for us. This is what I do not understand. Is it one’s pride and/or an attempt to prove the scholars/teachers of Islam wrong; or is Islam really that complicated for one? The nitpicking, not debating, is much too obvious. Yesterday, today, tomorrow -- do you believe that the message of Islam brought to the world by the Prophet Muhammad, Salallahu alaihi wa salâm, is much too backward for modern times (as many non-Muslim westerners would have the world believe)? Do you believe that Islam, and the interpretation thereof, needs to be changed to comply with the ways and "freedoms" of the modern, western/christian world?
This reminds me of that cow that the then followers of the Prophet Musa almost did not sacrifice – nitpicking, nitpicking, nitpicking.
You have the option of accepting or rejecting.

wa salâmu,

There are normally two choices i can choose from. Either i imitate the sheep and follow the crouds, or i use the brain God gave me and innovate better ways to lead. Maybe you like the first one, but i prefer the second.

I'm sorry, but i absolutely disagree with every word you posted above.

The first modern state to ever be created was in 1600AD. The prophet lived in the year 600AD. If you can explain to me how he could devise some type of system/gov't that could accomodate the needs of a modern state...then plz...go ahead. He was HUMAN. Yes, he had his revalation, and he knew much that we didn't know, but he was still human. You cannot take his word to be the absolute interpretation to Gods word for the rest of the existance of humanity, because there are things he did not have, which we have today.

I'm not nitpicking, i'm being critical and discussing. I respect faith but do not act in blind faith.

The Ummah needs to move forward. Whatever is being done today, and has been done in the past 200 years, is NOT working. So we MUST change to accomodate the new world we live in.

And why do you put words in my mouth (nitpicking?)? Where, when or how did i mention anything about christians and their so-called freedom? Why do you make it sound like i am a person who wants to mold Islam into a western standard?

We need to move FORWARD not backwards. We need to innovate new ways to live, not follow old ones. We need to bring ourselves into the year 2005, not in the year 600. In the year 600 there was no golbilization, there was no world-wide media, there was no urbanized areas as we know them today. The prophet made a great system for the year 600, but that system is suitable only for an agrarian society, NOT the modern state which we live in.

I fully respect the prophet and everything he said/did, but there are limits to how much i can follow anybody. God's word is our constitution, while the intepretation may change according to time and place. As long as we do not go against the Quran, along with the basic moral principles of the Hadith, then we cannot be wrong.

If you think this is nitpicking, then i don't know what innovation and moving forward is. Oh, and, it's not bid'a either. It's moving forward.

Tariq Hashmi(30)


salams
I do not think this is the right place for this discussion. Therefore, i would request you to copy these comments etc and create a new discussion in the general discussion forum. For i understand here we should only discuss what the early scholars, which is the purpose of the course and around which the content of the course revolve. Analyzing the new approaches is not included in this course.
Thanks

waseem 957)
Assallamu Alaykum
I write my views first accepting the severe limitations of my knowledge.

Ma'ashallah all the brothers who have participated with their views seem to be very knowledgable.

Brother! in your first e-mail you have written

"Tafsir bil Ra'y gives us much more flexibility in moulding Islam into our day and place".

You then wrote"Hadith and Sunnah were written for agrarian society where people had not ever heard of a State".

You then wrote "God never says we should look at the Hadith or anything about the Prophet pbuh to figure out how to interpret his words which are unclear".

You have then mentioned "modernising Islam and bringing it into the 21st Century".

Lastly "Prophet's interpretation of Qur'an should not be used as universal interpretation for all times and places".

In my humble and very limited opinion.We need to clarify the basic concept about Qur'an, Sunnah and Hadith.
Religion or Deen-i-Haq is Allah's Guidance for Mankind.The purpose of Religion is Tazkiya or purification of our soul's. The source of religion is the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad pbuh

Qur'an is the Book of Allah that has been sent to Mankind through the Prophet Mohammad pbuh.The Holy Prophet pbuh taught it to his Companions. This Book has been transferred from the Companions of the Holy Prophet pbuh to successive generations of Muslims without any break with full consensus and unanimity on its immutability to date.

Sunnah are those Abrahamic PRACTICES and RITUALS that were adopted by the Holy Prophet pbuh, in some cases after some modifications, and instituted among his followers as INTEGRAL PART OF DEEN.Sunnah are practices and have been transferred from the Holy Prophet pbuh by practical demonstration to his companions and from them through each successive generation of Muslim Ummah, who have continued to practice them with full consensus and unanimity.

Essentials of Sunnah include

1.They are practical actions and not a doctrine, they are either religious practices or actually related with activities of daily living.

2 They were instituted by the Holy Prophet pbuh and not the Qur'an.

3 Sunnah are those actions that were initiated by the Holy Prophet pbuh as integral part of Deen.

4. Excludes Prophetic teachings.

5 Cannot be established through individual report,require agreement and Consensus of Muslim Ummah.

Hadith is individual -to-individual narratives ascribed to Holy Prophet pbuh regarding his sayings, expressed or tacit approval and his personal description.

these include.

1. Life History of Holy Prophet pbuh,including his meeting with people.Important events in his time, as narrated by his followers.

2.Uswa-i-hasna.record of Holy Prophet pbuh every day life,rituals and routine,these include that he liked but did not authorise or initiate as essential part of religion.

3.Record of answers to questions and explanations given to his followers on different aspects of religion.

4.Record of explanations about the commandments in the Qur'an and sunnah to his followers.

The Qur'an states about the Prophet Mohammad pbuh that he is the perfect exampler 33:21 "In God's messenger you have indeed a good example for everyone who looks forward with hope to God and the Last Day, and remembers God unceasingly".
The Holy Qur'an describes the person of Holy Prophet pbuh as the model of excellence for the adherence of Islam.The way he would perform religious obligations and the care he took in dealing with the practical observation of the commands and the theoretical beliefs in the doctrines of Islam is the best form in which any human can discharge obligations.

My limited understanding is that Allah has not created man blind. Allah has provided man with inborn guidance.Revealed Guidance is provided where inborn guidance is not sufficient.Religion is not Zabat-i-hayat ie (complete set of rules) it is zaviyah-i-hayat(direction finder rules and guidelines)

The source of our religion is Qur'an and Sunnah.Hadith is explanation of the above. Hadith does not add to religion and is not a source of religion.

Among Muslims ,we have two extremes,one group gives so much importance to Hadith that it considers Hadith as a source of religion.The other extreme totally rejects hadith. The place of hadith in my opinion is somewhere in the middle.It does not add to the religion,but to learn about the everyday life of the Prophet pbuh,his likes and his interpretation and explanation of the Qur'an and Sunnah,his answers to the questions is indeed an extremely valuable source of knowledge.However there are discrepancies,as these are individual narratives.The general feeling is that if you read a hadith and it quotes something that is against what is said in Qur'an or Sunnah then Qur'an and Sunnah always take precedance.They are unchallanged.If you read something that is in accordance with them then we can read and learn from it.as said before it adds to our knowledge but not the religion or belief. For example, the history of Holy Prophet's life ,how he said namaz,how he fasted, the Holy wars Badr Uhad etc is deciphered from the hadith.It may not be of value or interest to everyone but for some it may be important on its true merit.

In conclusion! in my limited knowledge,
Islam is a religion for all seasons and generations till this Earth ceases to exist. Qur'an is Allah's final Testament.Qur'an tells us to say namaz and fast and perform haj,Nikah and Talaq. where do we find the way and essentials to perform these activities.What about namaz-i Eidayan,death, burial and newborn circumscion. these are the established religious practices that constitute Sunnah.

If Allah has given someone the intellect to be able to directly read the Qur'an, deliberate and understand it then Alhamdullilah. However there are a lot of people like me who do not possess such level of ability and for them translations and tafseers become a source of help.

Finally.the Qur'an consists of two parts.Al-kitab ie shariah or regulations and laws and AL-Hikmah.this includes philosphical basis of religion and wisdom ie Imaniyat fundamentals of beliefs and Ikhlaqiyat.norms of social interaction for us as individuals and as a colective part of society.

I believe that Al-Hikmah is permanant. and interms of our belief and our obligations toward our parents and family have been defined for ever. As far as laws are considered, Qur'an has explained the guidelines and general directives and the ultimate punishments of the principle crimes. Between these guidelines the Islamic State can have a degree of flexibility in accordance with the guidelines.

Regarding Hadith one must remember one other thing. If a teacher is giving a lecture in class and there are let us say 30 students. It is possible that at the end of the same lecture the interpretation and understanding may be different among those students.

However if I was 100% certain which is not possible, that this was the interpretation of the Prophet of Allah pbuh. in a matter pertaining to religion, I will have no hesitation is accepting it.
kind regards
AmrBassiouny (3333)

quote:
salams
I do not think this is the right place for this discussion. Therefore, i would request you to copy these comments etc and create a new discussion in the general discussion forum. For i understand here we should only discuss what the early scholars, which is the purpose of the course and around which the content of the course revolve. Analyzing the new approaches is not included in this course.
Thanks


As a moderator, can't you just move the whole thread to another section (to avoid losing all that has been already said)?

As for Waseem's excellent post, i'd like to clarify some issues on my stance.

First of all, we agree on everything you said. There is nothing you say where we disagree. I beleive that the Sunnah and Hadith are excellent and that Islam cannot be full without them. Though what i argue is that the parts of the hadith which inteprets the Quran should not be used as a universal interpretation for all times and places. Also, other things such as what a Muslim gov't should look like, should not be only the same way the prophet did it.

Though overall, of course, you cannot completely reject the Hadith if you want to fully understand Islam. I also take a middle-view on these issues.
waseem 957)


Assallamu Alaykum
"And call to your Lord with wisdom and sincere exhortations and debate with them in manners that are appropriate"

I would like to add one final comment on the point of "finding a system in the 21st century from Islam"

My dear brother!

Referring to my previous e-mail. Religion is Allah's Hidayat (Guidance). Its purpose is Tazkiya purification of soul.Our purpose in this world is to utilise this knowledge and earn Paradise.Thus this world and this life represents a selection process for Jannah.

Religion did not come to give us a "system"ie an economic or political system to govern.it is zaviah i hayat not zabat i hayat.it gives us guidelines not system to live.Our dilemma is that we are looking and asking from our religion and the Quran,what it did not come to give us.We have to form the system, which will be of some type today and 50 years later may be different according to the needs of that time. The system of government may be different in one muslim country in the same time ie in middle east and different in another.Religion is not interested whether we have presidential or parlimentary form of government.This is the democratic choice of the people.

If we look around the most advanced countries in the world are all non-muslims. This is a clear proof that you do not need Islam to formulate your "system". If we look at the Judicial system, the Quran has only mentioned the ultimate punishments of a handful of crimes murder,Qisas theft rape and Qudhf.the rest of thousands of judicial and penal laws are man made.

If we look at the period of Khulfa-i- Rashideen.We find that it was a primitive from of system according to the needs and progress of the people of that time.however on the basis of human values it was the best from of government.

As we see with Allahs shariah, in Holy Doctrines,they progress with evolution,the same is true for systems to govern countries.They evolve and progress with time.Religion did not come to give us system but general guidelines.This was not the purpose of religion.

The problem we face is that we asking religion to give us what it never came to give us and then when we cannot find the answers we interpret that religion was not meant to be for 2005, we need to modify the religion.

Abroad Muslims are competing in all fields.they are at the top in medicine ,engineering and economics.
Out of the 5 richest countries of the world 3 are Muslims.
kind regards
AmrBassiouny(3333):

quote:
Religion did not come to give us a "system"ie an economic or political system to govern.it is zaviah i hayat not zabat i hayat.it gives us guidelines not system to live.Our dilemma is that we are looking and asking from our religion and the Quran,what it did not come to give us.We have to form the system, which will be of some type today and 50 years later may be different according to the needs of that time. The system of government may be different in one muslim country in the same time ie in middle east and different in another.Religion is not interested whether we have presidential or parlimentary form of government.This is the democratic choice of the people.


Exactly!

This is what i am saying. The Muslim community today has created a system out of Islam rather than a set of guidelines. Following the hadith word by word without looking at the basic purpose behind htem and modifying them for your time and place...it becomes nothing but a blindly followed system! This is how the middle-east has become. I am from Egypt, and i know my country and my fellow Arabs well in how they view Islam. It has become nothing less than a system, and nobody is questioning this in the middle-east.
Yusufally(2842):
Dear Amr

Please don't let yourself be dazzled by the glitter and pomp of the so-called modern states. They are not worth imitating. Scratch the surface and you will find emptiness.

AmrBassiouny 3333)
quote: Dear Amr

Please don't let yourself be dazzled by the glitter and pomp of the so-called modern states. They are not worth imitating. Scratch the surface and you will find emptiness.

I can't see why people are equating a more flexible religion with western ideals. Hamdiyah also said the same thing, and If you read my reply to her you will find that i said the following:

"And why do you put words in my mouth (nitpicking?)? Where, when or how did i mention anything about christians and their so-called freedom? Why do you make it sound like i am a person who wants to mold Islam into a western standard?"

There are many things which i admire about modern states, while there are many things which i dislike. But i disagree that they are shallow or empty. If you look today at the difference between the general population in a Muslim country, compared to that in a western country...you will know see the difference. This is in itself proof.

Look at Israel. They had nothing. No natural resources, no education, no system, no schools etc. And what are they now? They are the ones which created the SMS technology, and every time you download a file off the internet, remember that an Israeli is the one which discovered how to do that. Look at their cities with their modern infrastruction, transportation, services, communication and so on. There MUST be something which they are doing right, which we are doing wrong. You cannot look at modern culture or ideology as shallow and overlook all the good things which you could learn from them.

The reason that these western states are ahead of us Muslims is simple: We want to move backwards, and imitate what our ancestors used to do, because that seemed to work 1000 years ago for our ancestors. But they want to move forward. They want to innovate and create new things. They want to build something out of nothing. I admire this even more in the Asians and their confucian culture. Look at South Korea and Japan (or Hong Kong or Singapore or China). South Korea was one of the the poorest nations in the world in 1953. They had nothing, and their cities and all their infrastructure was destroyed. But look what they did. They created something out of nothing. Now they are the top countries in the world, and they make us Muslims look like lazy, uneducated people.

Look at the Canadians, who have excellent living conditions, a free gov't, excellent market, respect for different cultures/religions and so on...and meanwhile they have top-notch relations with all the countries in the world...and they have never harmed anybody.

These are things which are not in our Muslim society today. These are things which we need to look at and admire in the other cultures and things which must try and be like them in. Though we must not imitate them. I beleive that we must learn from others and see how they did things, and then mold that into a form which is conformable with the guidelines put by Islam. I don't beleive in imitation, but i beleive in learning and adapting. The Quran is flexible and gives us a lot of room to innovate and change, and we must use this in order to advance our society. Otherwise, we will always stay down.

Look forwards, not backwards. Don't imitate, innovate. This is the only way to stay alive in this world we live in today.

Don't ever underestimate other cultures which are already controlling and dominating your own. This is a fatal mistake made by many, and look where it has lead us.

Yusufally(2842)

Dear Amr,

don't equate technological progress with happiness and contentment. Many people would very much like to get rid of their SMS and mobile phones etc. The only reason that they cannot do that is that they have become slaves of technology and, as I said, would be happy at becoming free of them. You seem to think that innovation is the answer to all. Are the so-called "progress" in the nations you mentioned really good for humanity? Do you want to judge a culture on its ability to "innovate". Innovation plays into the hands of the big corporations. Think again. I appreciate your attempt to find solutions to the misery in the Islamic world. You are looking at the wrong place for the answers.

As to comparing the general population in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, you will be surprised how Muslims are praised by western travellers who have been to Muslim countries. Our hospitality, our laughter and true respect for others is known but is rarely published. 
vinod (2344)


Assalamu 'Alaikum Brother

In my post below, if I happen to put words into your mouth, then pls do pardon me.

here's my take on your post -

When the Prophet (pbuh) interpreted verses of the Quran, he did not pass on the science of the interpretation. But I believe that under the guidance of the Prophet, the companions grew in wisdom over time, clearly assimilating the spirit of the Quran and that is why we see the Quran giving them the license to engage in the interpretation - as you've described.

You have said that Prophetic interpretations can be bypassed.

I would say, that depends on the narration and cannot be taken as a blanket rule in interpretation. One would have to pay careful attention to all narratives of the Prophet and his companions related to any issue and from these extract the essence of the ruling without getting lost in the context. That is a very hard thing to do. Sometimes this can be purely a moral essence and at others it can also be accompanied with a physicality to it - only because the physical item is indispensible for the actualization of the maral priciple. It can happen. That is all I'm saying.

Another point I'd like to make is that you've generally painted a very negative image of scholars who follow the traditional schools of interpretation. It is my humble suggestion that you allow them a chance to critique your understanding. Not all of them are as hardened as we may imagine them. Many may actually help your cause, inshaAllah. Also, there may be many sound principles in the traditional schools which can be used in furthering our own understanding.

The course on studying-islam is far from exhausitve in covering all principles of the traditional school. I'm pretty sure that studying-islam itself does not claim to be comprehensive. If you've based your judgement on the traditional schools based on what you've read here, I hold that to be unwise.

I think it would do good for you, inshaAllah, to spend some time studying the traditional schools of interpretations to know their strengths and weaknesses.


I hope you can appreciate the points I've made above.


Fii Amaanillah
Your brother in Islam
Vinod

AmrBassiouny(3333)



quote:
Dear Amr,

don't equate technological progress with happiness and contentment. Many people would very much like to get rid of their SMS and mobile phones etc. The only reason that they cannot do that is that they have become slaves of technology and, as I said, would be happy at becoming free of them. You seem to think that innovation is the answer to all. Are the so-called "progress" in the nations you mentioned really good for humanity? Do you want to judge a culture on its ability to "innovate". Innovation plays into the hands of the big corporations. Think again. I appreciate your attempt to find solutions to the misery in the Islamic world. You are looking at the wrong place for the answers.


How do you equate happiness, may i ask? How can you measure happiness? You cannot. But you can measure success, you can measure quality of life, you can measure disease, death, and health, and most importantly, you can measure education.

In every point where you can measure, know that the Muslim Ummah is far behind on all the measurable counts. The people are poor, uneducated, and unsuccessful. The quality of life in general for Muslim countries, is low. The jobs which they take do not pay them enough to feed their families. The governments which direct them do not give their children a good education. This is a measure of success, and we are far from it.

Innovation makes the difference between dominating and being dominted. It makes the difference between moving from point A to point B in 10 mins to 1 minute. It makes our lives more efficient. Instead of having to travel 10 kilometers to tell a friend about something, or waiting 24 hours to mail him a letter, you can do it instantly, thanks to the Israeli who figured it out.

I refuse to accept that innovation does not move the people forward. If you are convinced that this is the case, i suggest you find a cave and a spear...or...no, the spear is too much innovation...just kill animals with your hands.

If you think that we can come out of our reliance on the West, and if you can think that we can end the West's dominance and hegemony upon us, then please, share with us HOW you will do this, if you don't need to innovate.



quote:
As to comparing the general population in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, you will be surprised how Muslims are praised by western travellers who have been to Muslim countries. Our hospitality, our laughter and true respect for others is known but is rarely published.


I am also surprised by how Westerners come back from Muslim countries to say that Muslims are poor, dirty, uneducated and sexually frustrated. That bothers me (last time i heard that was...last week...so my memory is still fresh). But make no mistake, i love Muslims/Arabs more than any other people i've ever come across. I never feel at home anywhere but in Egypt. I agree with you that they are the most hospitable, humerous and kind people i've ever come across. But this is not the case for many others. Making generalizations on this is not very easy.



quote:
I would say, that depends on the narration and cannot be taken as a blanket rule in interpretation. One would have to pay careful attention to all narratives of the Prophet and his companions related to any issue and from these extract the essence of the ruling without getting lost in the context. That is a very hard thing to do. Sometimes this can be purely a moral essence and at others it can also be accompanied with a physicality to it - only because the physical item is indispensible for the actualization of the maral priciple. It can happen. That is all I'm saying.


Before starting, i'd like to thank you for your extremely polite tone.

On to the point, I fully agree with you on everything here. Thanks for this great explanation. Somtimes i have to write general statements without specifying exactly what i mean. Or else i would write a book rather than a post. Though i fully agree with you.



quote:
I hope you can appreciate the points I've made above.


Fii Amaanillah
Your brother in Islam
Vinod


I highly appreciate everything you said, and i very much agree with you on everything. You have my respect on that.

Though again, i am forced to make generalizations at times. There are many scholars which i very strongly admire, one of those would be Anis Ahmad, who is currently giving a series of seminars in HK, and i was fortunate enough to attend one of those (i'll be attending more in the next few days). There are many scholars which are excellent and who i beleive are a great example for us all, and they should not be disregarded. But when you look at the general mood, when you look at who holds the power, when you look at who gets the loudest voice and the most followers...you will find yourself with those who i disagree with. As to give them a chance to critique me...then i must reply by saying that i do. Here i am, posting my views on the internet asking anybody to give me his/her best critique.

But i must emphasise that i have nothing against the other schools of though, i have nothing against them and i have no reason to want to prove them wrong. I just disagree on certain points.

I am still very young, and i haven't had enough time to learn all that i want to learn on Islam. I hope that by time and dedication i can further my studies on other ideologies by other scholars, and i am doing so as we speak. Insha'allah I will be able to do this. But i do not intend on being a scholar, or dedicating my life to studying only Islam, so i can only go so far.

perv1(3246)

Dear AmrBassiouny
Would appreciate details about Anis Ahmed, he sounds very interesting.
AmrBassiouny(3333)

quote:
Dear AmrBassiouny
Would appreciate details about Anis Ahmed, he sounds very interesting.


Here is his CV: http://www.ips.org.pk/aboutips/cvanis.pdf#search= anis%20ahmad%20islam

Edited by: tariq hashmi on Saturday, February 26, 2005 6:08 AM

Yusufally

GERMANY
Posted - Tuesday, March 01, 2005  -  12:03 AM Reply with quote
quote:If you think that we can come out of our reliance on the West, and if you can think that we can end the West's dominance and hegemony upon us, then please, share with us HOW you will do this, if you don't need to innovate.
Well, an alternative to innovation is to exhaust the wealth we already possess. Practice the brotherhood practiced by our Prophet pbuh and his followers, practice being fair in dealing with people of all faiths and beliefs, practice charity, keep away from money which is haram, do your prayers and seek knowledge. Don't waste your time. Keep away from all types of drugs (including TV, computer Games). Take care of your parents, your relatives and neighbours and remember that you are not alone in this world and that you don't live for yourself alone and that becoming rich is not the purpose of life. Nothing wrong in living a comfortable life but don't get in the rat race. I know you all know that, I just mentioned it in order to remind you about them. You will become independent of the West if you manage to stop yearning for their way of life. It could be that I am moving outside the topic being discussed but I just thought it would be good to say this. I respect Mr Amrs viewpoint and I wish him success in his search for solutions to our problems.
saraj

USA
Posted - Wednesday, March 02, 2005  -  10:53 PM Reply with quote
TextText
Assalam alaikum, I have been re-reading and re-reading the ongoing discussions and pray, insha'allah, that whatever contributions I can make help with these discussions. I am a previous student, and like Bro Amr, have read things prior to some of the classes that I took through this organization. Please understand that my intention is to help add to further everyone's understanding and should I make mistakes, which I do, I do ask forgiveness. I find when I teach my students that understanding terms are very important, especially for newcomers to Islam that are trying to grapple with a lot of language adjustments. So, bear with me because we may have some who are not sure of terms as well.

First of all, it helps to understand the purpose of hadith. The word 'hadith' means 'news, report or narration.' It is in this sense that the word is used in the Qur'an (see Surah 12:101 for example).

Technically, however, the word 'hadith' (and its plural is ahadith) means in particular 'the reports (verbal or written) about the Sunnah (sayings, manners, etc) of the Prophet (SAW).

These terms in Arabic are qaul (he said this....); fi'l - what he did and taqrir (what he silently approved in other's actions. Also, the Prophet (SAW) himself never asked anyone to record anything he did.

And Tafsir and Hadith are two different expressions as I have heard some inter-relatedly used which causes confusion.

The word 'tafsir' comes from 'fassara' which means 'to explain, to expound, to elucidate, to interpret.' The verbal noun of 'fassara' means 'the explanation or interpretation of something.'

There is another opinion that states that the word 'tafsir' is a transposition from s-f-r, which means 'to expose, to uncover', for example: a woman who uncovers her face is called a 'saafirah' and the act of uncovering her face is called 'sufur.' So, accordingly this definition would mean 'uncovering the meanings and exposing the secrets of the Qur'an.' So, thank you for letting me get this far.

Now, lets look at the Qur'an, which actually for those new to Islam, should always start with the Qur'an and work forwards. I find it disturbing that too much emphasis is placed on hadith and tafsir, where the emphasis should be the Qur'an itself.

Abdur Rahama ibn 'Auf has narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said: Texton the day of judgment, three things will be under the shade of the arsh (throne): one-the Holy Qur'an which will argue with men (the Qur'an has both an apparent and deeper meaning); the second will be amanat or trust and the third relates to kinship. O' Allah, have mercy on the person who upheld me and deprive him of your Mercy whosoever severed me.'

Thus, the Qur'an has both an apparent and deeper meaning. The meaning of the expression 'outward and inward of the Qur'an' is evident, i.e. has an apparent meaning which can be understood by all who read it regardless of education, etc. But, there is a deeper spiritual significance that is not understood by everyone.

In is in this vein that the Prophet (SAW) has said: whosoever expresses his personal opinion in respect of anything in the Qur'an commits a mistake, even if he be right in his opinion.'

Text

There are some that hold that the word 'outward', i.e. the body of the Qur'an refers to its words, which can be recited properly. The word 'inward' ie., spirit, refers to its meanings and underlying ideas, the understanding of which varies with the ability of the readers. So, here are two ways to look at the words inward and outward in relation to the Qur'an.

Ibn e-Mas'ud has said: If you seek knowledge, you should meditate on the meanings of the Qur'an because it embodies the history of the former times as well as the latter.

Now to where interpreting comes in. It is, however, essential to observe the pre-requisites for interpreting the Qur'an. Just like one does not go into medical school without pre-med courses, likewise in learning in our topic. There is a really unfashionable behavior that those who possess little to almost no knowledge of Arabic vocabulary will offer their person opinions on the basis of vernacular translations of the Qur'an. There have been specialists who have laid down that anyone attempting a commentary on the Qur'an should be well versed in fifteen subjects. Time nor space allows me to elaborate, and if someone wants to know these things, let me know because I can give them to those interested.

And whosoever actions upon what he knows, then Allah (SWT) bestows upon him knowledge of things not known to him.

It is with this special understanding that when Hadrat Ali (RA) was asked by the people if he had received from the Prophet (SAW) any special knowledge or instructions which were not received by others, ALi (RA) said: I swear by Him who made the Paradise and created life that I possess nothing special, except the clear understanding which almightly Allah (SWT) bestows upon a person in respect of the Qur'an.'

The branches of knowledge are like tools, essential pre-requisites. Likewise, there are three people not blessed with complete understanding of the Qur'an:
(1) one now well versed in Arabic;
(2) one who persists in commiting a major sin or indulges in the act of religious innovation (blackens one's heart and prevents him or her from understanding the Qur'an);
(3) one who is a rationalist, even in the matter of faith and feels embarrassed when he reads the 'ayat' and cannot fully rationalize it.

I like what Ibn Khaldun stated in his book entitled 'Muqaddima: when it comes to reports, if one relies only on the method of transmission without evaluating thse reports in light of the principles of human conduct, the fundamentals of politics, the nature of civilization, and the conditions for social associations, and without comparing ancient sources to contemporary sources, and the present to the past, he (she) could fall into errors and mistakes and could deviate from the path of truth. Historians (Qur'anic) interpreters and leading transmitters have often fallen into error by accepting the authenticity of certain reports and incidents. This is because they relief only on the transmission, whether of value or worthless. They did not carefully inspect these reports in light of fundamental principles of historical analysis, or compare the reports to each other or examine them according to the standards of wisdom or investigate the nature of beings. Furthermore, they did not decide on the authenticity of these reports according to the standards of reason and discernment. Consequently, they were led astray from the truth and became lost in the wilderness of error and delusion.'

As an added footnote to the above statement, Ibn Khaldun argues reliance on the science of transmission (ilm al-riwayah or ilm al-hadith) alone is erroneous. Chains of transmission are only one of the factors to be evaluated in considering the authoritativeness of a tradition. Ilm al riwayah cannot exclude ilm al-dirayah (the study of plausibility, weight and implications of tradition). Ilm al-dirayah must include evaluating the historical plausibility and social implications of a tradition. The fact that a particular tradition has an impeccable chain of transmission is only the first step in assessing its authenticity. Furthermore, even if a tradition's authenticity is probable, the fact standing alone is not probative as to the weight to be given to the tradition, especially when used to make a legal determination.

The bottom line is that the best method of explaining the Qur'an is with the QUr'an. What is mentioned in general terms in one place is usally explained in another. When this is not easily found, then we are to look at the SUnnah of the Prophet (SAW) because its main purpose is to explain the QUr'an and elaborate on the meanings. In Ahmad 4:131: the Prophet (SAW) said: I was given the Qur'an and its equal with it' (referring to his Sunnah).

The Sunnah is a revelation from Allah just as the Qur'an, although it was not sent down like the Qur'an and also is not recited like the Qur'an; hence, one seeks the tafsir of the Qur'an with the Qur'an itself and the Sunnah. If one is not able to find Tafsir in the QUr'an of the Qur'an, then there are other steps.

As one reply stated and I agree: whoever explains the Qur'an with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him assume his seat in the Fire.'

It is a long commentary by me and I apologize by it, however, I had 5 pages of commentary to review in order to think how to present another way to interpret and understand the various sources. Use this course for laying a proper foundation; without it, a foundation will crumble even in our knowledge.

As my own note to some of this, hadith has been set up on a shelf and left to the cobwebs of 10th century. I personally feel that hadith needs to be re-examined and many rescruitenized in the science of hadith, especially when they transgress the spirit of justice, which the QUr'an speaks about.

The hijab, for instance, is not the 6th pillar of Islam. If it were so, then it would be clear. However, there are multiple writings and I have reviewed much history from available sources I have had so far and feel that whether or not one wears it is not as important as the issue of modesty which is addressed to both genders and the hijab, if you will is over our hearts in our living Islam.

May Allah (SWT) forgive me my mistakes and errors, and may this be of benefit to the discussion. If it is not, I sincerely also apologize for misunderstanding the confusion that I felt was underlying most of what I read.

May Allah (SWT) bless all of you, and to the instructor, Dr. Tariq, as I think the discussions are helpful, even if we only return back to where we have started in the first place.

Wassalam alaikum wa rahmatuallah wa barakatu, Sr Saraj
saraj

USA
Posted - Wednesday, March 02, 2005  -  11:09 PM Reply with quote
Assalam alaikum, I noticed some mistakes in my reply even though I proofed it as much as I could while on the web:

under branches of knowledge =substitute the correct wording where indicated:

(1) one NOT well versed in Arabic...

spelling: thse should be 'these'

delete 'texton' -not part of the commentary.

'And whosoever actions' should say 'and whosoever acts upon......'

'This is because they relief....should be rely and not 'relief.'
AmrBassiouny

HONG KONG
Posted - Monday, March 07, 2005  -  2:01 AM Reply with quote
quote:

Well, an alternative to innovation is to exhaust the wealth we already possess.


But if we are not creative and innovative we will exhaust the wealth unwisely and end up dominated once again, as we are today. Hence we must find innovative ways to exhaust this wealth which we have (i guess we agree on this point).

quote:

Practice the brotherhood practiced by our Prophet pbuh and his followers, practice being fair in dealing with people of all faiths and beliefs, practice charity, keep away from money which is haram, do your prayers and seek knowledge. Don't waste your time. Keep away from all types of drugs (including TV, computer Games).


Can you please show explicit modern historical evidence to support your hypothesis (one which did not include any innovation)?

Ask yourself, how did the Muslims move forward in their early days? They innovated. Innovation and new ideas are the key to moving forward. The prophet mohammed (saas) innovated, he created a new religion and a new way to follow God...and that is why he succeeded. If he had just asked the people to find out how Jesus and Moses did things and order them to imitate those people, he wouldn't be able to get anywhere. He needed new ideas in order to move his people into the new era.

And since when does the TV not contain abundant amounts of knowledge? Have you ever watched the news, political/religious debates or the discovery channel? Plus, games are something which give you a release from the stressful world of everyday (so do prayers, but it's a different type of release). I can't see anything wrong with games unless you are addicted to them and stay infront of the computer 24/7 playing (but lets not get into this debate here).

quote:

You will become independent of the West if you manage to stop yearning for their way of life.


I've been stressing that i do not yearn to be like the West. Also, the prophet himself had many qualities which the West has today (which we don't have). Those include self-critisism, innovation and strive to move forward rather than backwards. In fact, i remember running into several hadiths which contain the prophet praisint the good qualities of the Romans (the Wests forefathers, check Sahih Muslim, book 40, number 6925), so if you think it is wrong for me to praise their good traits then you should also have something against the prophet saying them. I just yearn to learn from the west and see how and why they have succeeded in dominating us and controlling us for a couple hundred years now. You can also become independant from the West by not belittling them them for their control and dominance over us all. They control us, that is a fact. They dominate our everyday lives. Look around you, you are dependant upon the West now. Everything you do in your life, is connected to the West. Do not deny this because it is a fact around the world. But why are we do dependant upon them if they are so inferior, may i ask? If the Muslims today REALLY were better than the so-called West, why are we not dominating them?

There is something which we are doing wrong, that they are doing right. You cannot deny this. My explanation to this is the following: Self-critisism. In the West, they are able to think critically towards what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. With time, they were able to create an excellent legal system, government structure, and an excellent society inwhich life is far more comfortable than anywhere else in the world. In this example, i am refering to countries such as Sweden or Germany (but i'd like to keep the USA out of this equation as they have too much blood on their hands). Muslims havn't been able to do this. All we do is sit down, look at what we used to do, and just repeat it. The West has acknowledged that their ancestors didn't have a monopoly over wisdom, and this is why they can move forward. The Muslim world today wants to move backwards though. Just look at the Muslims around you. They all want things to go back to the way they were 700 years ago in our golden days, and they think that they only way to do this is to move backwards and imitate what our ancestors were doing. In order to come back out of the mess we are in today, wee cannot do this, this is what i am stressing. I don't have a fascination for the West, but i respect their culture just as i respect any other. I could go on about how i feel we have so much to learn from Asian countries as well, and their confucian culture. There is so much to learn if you are open to new ideas, and it is very easy to mold these ideals into Islam.

We must be able to look at our actions and the actions of our ancestors critically in order to survive. Imitating does not bring you ahead anymore. Living in abject occupation, poverty, uneducation and poor living conditions doesn't make a good society. Being rich doesn't either (note that i have no want for excessive money). But being able to live comfortably and to be able to govorn yourself is what does. Just looking after your parents and giving out zakat doesn't get you that far (in my opinion). Of course, we must stress on these moral values, but we must strive for more.

quote:

I respect Mr Amrs viewpoint and I wish him success in his search for solutions to our problems.


I also must say that i respect your opinions and i'd like to thank you for coming out with them (any debate is always good). But i guess we can agree to disagree here. If you remember my name, you might be hearing more of it in the near future. Just know that i have nothing but a pure heart and there has been nothing on my mind for the past 3 years except the advancement of our Muslim society. I have no other goal in life. Insha2allah i will be able to get there before i die.

Edited by: amrbassiouny on Monday, March 07, 2005 6:48 AM

Edited by: amrbassiouny on Monday, March 07, 2005 10:49 AM

Edited by: amrbassiouny on Monday, March 07, 2005 10:50 AM
AmrBassiouny

HONG KONG
Posted - Monday, March 07, 2005  -  11:04 AM Reply with quote
@Saraj

That was a very helpful post and i agree with everything you layed out there. Thanks for your good words.

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